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United We Stand?
Brian Johnson is frustrated with the media’s coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or lack of coverage as he would be quick to tell you. Assistant Director of Residence Life and Mount graduate class of 2006, Johnson saw a need to combat this lack of media coverage. He, along with the Department of Residence Life, hosted a program with the USO entitled “United We Stand?” which offered students, faculty, and the general public a greater understanding of the effects of war on the American military, and provided a personal look at the men and women who courageously serve in war zones overseas. His mission was to remind all of us that the wars are still newsworthy.

In the initial years of the war on terrorism, support for soldiers was high due to daily news features on the heroic men and women in our armed forces. “As we approach the 5 year anniversary of the war,” said Johnson, “the media has found it better to have Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan as front page news while the war is slowly forgotten.”

The program included representative from each of the United States fighting forces: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Captain Glen Lightfoot, Army National Guard, gave the opening invocation and Air Force Lt. Colonel Robert F. Porr was the keynote speaker. The panel included Staff Sergeant Anthony B. Vega, Army; Brandis Kemp, Navy; and Captain Kevin Navas, Marine Corps. The panel also featured members of the college community who have gone to war: Kelvin Gentles, Army Reserve Sergeant
and class of 2005 as well as Dr. Joseph Skelly, history professor and Army Reservist.

The program also served as a fundraiser. The Mount’s Student Government raised $4,500 in donations which they donated to the New York Chapter of the USO of  Metropolitan NY, a group dedicated to the well-being and morale of soldiers. In addition to guest speakers, memorabilia from the wars was on display. These items included Iraqi money, weapons, and equipment used by American soldiers. Johnson created the idea of the forum because he felt there was a need to inform people that this country  is still at war. “I want to reach out to students,” said Johnson, “we have alumni and professors who have served with distinction in Iraq. When you turn on the TV and war  coverage is not even there…it’s crazy how we have become desensitized to it. People are forgetting.”

The program was held on March 27th in Alumni Hall. About 70 people attended the program including faculty, staff, students and members of the community. It was a chance to learn firsthand the true impact of the war on soldiers, remind the public that our soldiers are still serving in war zones overseas, and offer them our continued  thoughts and prayers.

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